Tuesday, March 28

Anaheim Angels: Just Above Average Pretty Much Everywhere

Head back to the home discussion

Starting Pitching:

These guys' depth is staggering. While the quality per pitcher isn't fantastic, the dropoff between the ace (Bartolo Colon) and the 5th starter (Jeff Weaver) is much less than what you'll see on most teams. Surprisingly, the weak link might be the third starter, Ervin Santana. Granted, he's only up there because 1) Kelvim Escobar is injury-prone and 2) Jeff Weaver was signed late, which means he's functionally the 5th starter, but even given that, he's good stuff. At least for a fifth starter.

As for Escobar, he's one of the maddeningly annoying injury-prone-but-with-great-stuff guys. After a good 2004, 2005 was vicious for him in terms of innings; however, he's been above 100 in ERA+ (ERA above league average) in every season except for 1999 and 2000 (whoohoo). When healthy, he's one of the best 4th/3rd starters out there. Same goes for Weaver, except 1) he wasn't injured, he was in New York and 2) his ceiling isn't as high. Good innings eater, better than what you'd expect from a 4/5 guy.

As for the top 2 guys, Bartolo Colon was quite effective as an ace last year, and John Lackey is simply a strikeout machine. While these guys certainly aren't as glamorous as what you'd expect from a 1-2 combination, there's a lot there. Way more than you'd think, and a lot better than you'd expect.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Bartolo Colon
2nd: John Lackey
3rd: Ervin Santana
4th: Kelvim Escobar
5th: Jeff Weaver

More information:
John Lackey
Kelvim Escobar
Jeff Weaver

Closer / Bullpen:

This is another one of Anaheim's major strengths. Closer Francisco Rodriguez is one of the more elite closers in the game - if he's not already in the top 5 closers in the league (I see it that way), then he'd certainly be no worse than 6th. His K-rate is already up there with the elite closers, and his WHIP and ERA aren't any worse off. In other words, if you don't think he's one of the top 5 closers, you're crazy.

As for the rest of the bullpen, it's surprisingly deep, although not as deep as it would appear on first glance. Hector Carrasco enjoyed a mini-career revivial last year in Washington, so of course he was promptly relocated. However, he's the new guy; the guys they already had were damn talented in their own right. Scot Shields is one of the best middle relievers out there, and along with Brendan Donnelly, they form the core of the bullpen. Donnelly, however, struggled last year.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
8th: Scot Shields
7th: Hector Carrasco
Sit. Right: Brendan Donnelly
Sit. Lefty: J.C. Romero
Mop-up: ???? (Probably unnecessary)

More information:
Francisco Rodriguez


So where does this team go wrong? Well, it begins here. Granted, "wrong" is all relative at this point, as the Angels' definition of wrong is simply young. Adam Kennedy and Orlando Cabrera are the stalwarts of the middle infield. Okay, that's a boldface lie - Chone Figgins is expected to steal (get it? he's fast, har har) time from Kennedy at second, although he's starting every day at third. He's quite good, and will play most every day between third, second, and the outfield. Edgardo Alfonzo - remember him? - will take over when Figgons moves around, since Dallas McPherson is still playing on the all-ineffective team.

As for first, this the the first real sign of the youth movement; Casey Kotchman will take the lion's share of the starts at first. Granted, this is partially due to the decision of the team to move Darin Erstad to the outfield again (and not to, say, the bench, but I digress), so make of that what you will. One of the flying Molina brothers - Jose - will be the main catcher, and perenially underplayed and underrated Juan Rivera (former Nat! I hate Jim Bowden) will finally get a chance to play at DH. It's a start.

Projected Infield:
C: Jose Molina
1B: Casey Kotchman
2B: Adam Kennedy
SS: Orlando Cabrera
3B: Chone Figgins
DH: Juan Rivera

More information:
Casey Kotchman
Juan Rivera
Dallas McPherson


So there's this guy - Vladmir Guerrero - in right field. Maybe you've heard of him. He's pretty good. Just sayin'.

The rest of the outfield, though, ....uh.... isn't. They're old, though - they've got that one locked down. The aforementioned Darin Erstad takes over in center - I have no clue why, but look for Figgins to sub for him. Garret Anderson, who's sadly sorely declined due to age, is still the daily left fielder. Not bad, I say. Well, not bad for his age, perhaps - or that he has a job. He's not good, though.

Projected Outfield:
RF: Vladmir Guerrero
CF: Darin Erstad
LF: Garret Anderson

More information:
Vladmir Guerrero
Garret Anderson

Extra Stuff:

So here's what the Angels boil down to, in my book. They're basically a slightly-less-good version of the Oakland A's. Granted, if you're going to imitate teams, you could do worse, but the inherent problem with an imitation is that by its very definition, it can't be as good as the original. That being said, they're still a good team, don't get me wrong. It's just there's a better, slightly deeper team in the division.

Watch for odd breaks, though - the Angels have a fantastic farm system, and might actually end up with a net gain if some of their old guys get injured. They'll be exciting to watch, if only for Vlad.